"Some media outlets reported that the attack was on a car, but there is no road alongside my mother’s house. Others reported that the attack was on a house. But the missiles hit a nearby field, not a house. All of them reported that three, four, five militants were killed. But only one person was killed that day–Mammana Bibi, a grandmother and midwife who was preparing to celebrate the Islamic holiday of Eid… Not a militant, but my mother."
"Neo-liberalism is a global ideology and world view. It adopts and distorts the logic of both liberal models, turning politics into the administration of economics. Its rationality disseminates a version of social ‘normality’ that subjects all aspects of life to the logic of economic optimization, and a market-based distribution of goods, values and life prospects. Government has been replaced by ‘governance’ and is ruled by the same logic. The homo oeconomicus becomes homo tout court. Everything is subjected to a particular economic logic: the polity and electoral system, health education, and foreign policy as well as the constitution of the subject and the citizen. At stake is not ‘the market economy but the market society’. The neo liberal project touches all aspects of life. The atomization of society is accompanied by a weakening of institutions. President Reagan and Mrs Thatcher, its initiators and pioneers, attacked parties, trade unions, local government and even the church. These institutions mediate between the state and civil society. Their weakening undermines the civility necessary for easing social tension and pacifying conflict."
"As a country, we’re addicted to our consumptions. Among our primary consumptions are images of black bodies as being hip, as being renegade, as being kinda fucking dangerous, even if they’re malign imaginaries. It’s something that’s been in circulation for a long time. What I think is incredibly fascinating is that this is occurring while the president is pushing a war. Nothing could be more perfect about where we’re at on an ethical level, nationally. Had I written this up in some sort of Dickensian attempt to lacerate American culture, people would be like, “Oh, this is too absurdly pat."
"The necessity of reform mustn’t be allowed to become a form of blackmail serving to limit, reduce, or halt the exercise of criticism. Under no circumstances should one pay attention to those who tell one: “Don’t criticize, since you’re not capable of carrying out a reform.” That’s ministerial cabinet talk. Critique doesn’t have to be the premise of a deduction that concludes “this, then, is what needs to be done.” It should be an instrument for those who fight, those who resist and refuse what is. Its use should be in processes of conflict and confrontation, essays in refusal. It doesn’t have to lay down the law for the law. It isn’t a stage in a programming. It is a challenge directed to what is."
Michel Foucault, “Questions of Method”
I swear Foucault predicted American political discourse in 2013 perfectly.
"Which is a long-winded way of saying: Meet the libertarians, whose entire philosophy is based on the paranoid belief of government conspiracies, a narrative thriller in which individualist heroes wage a Terminator-like battle against government jackboots."
Best description of libertarians I’ve read in a while.
"Inarguably, there is a satisfaction in dwelling on the degree to which the power of our enemies over us is implicated, not in their command of knowledge, but precisely in their ignorance. The effect is a real one, but it carries dangers with it as well. The chief of these dangers is the scornful, fearful, or patheticizing reification of “ignorance”; it goes with the unexamined Enlightenment assumptions by which the labeling of a particular force as “ignorance” seems to place it unappealably in a demonized space on a never quite explicit ethical schema. (It is also dangerously close in structure to the more palpably sentimental privileging of ignorance as an originary, passive innocence.) The angles of view from which it can look as though a political fight is a fight against ignorance are invigorating and maybe revelatory ones but dangerous places for dwelling. The writings of among others, Foucault, Derrida, Thomas Kuhn, and Thomas Szasz have given contemporary readers a lot of practice in questioning both the ethical/political disengagement, and beyond that, the ethical political/simplicity of the category of “knowledge, “ so that a writer who appeals too directly to the redemptive potential of simply upping the cognitive wattage on any question of power seems, now, naïve."
— Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, Epistemology of the Closet
"Examples? Here they are: those of our Exhibition. Birth, death? Yes, these are facts of nature, universal facts. But if one removes History from them, there is nothing more to be said about them; any comment about them becomes purely tautological. The failure of photography seems to me to be flagrant in this connection: to reproduce death or birth tells us, literally, nothing. For these natural facts to gain access to a true language, they must be inserted into a category of knowledge which means postulating that one can transform them, and precisely subject their naturalness to our human criticism. For however universal, they are the signs of an historical writing. True, children are always born, but in the whole mass of the human problem, what does the ‘essence’ of this process matter to us, compared to its modes which, as for them, are perfectly historical? Whether or not the child is born with ease or difficulty, whether or not his birth causes suffering to his mother, whether or not he is threatened by a high mortality rate, whether or not such and such a type of future is open to him: this is what your Exhibitions should be telling people, instead of an eternal lyricism of birth. The same goes for death: must we really celebrate its essence once more, and thus risk forgetting that there is still so much we can do to fight it? It is this very young, far too young power that we must exalt, and not the sterile identity of ‘natural’ death."
"This myth functions in two stages: first the difference between human morphologies is asserted, exoticism is insistently stressed, the infinite variations of the species, the diversity in skins, skulls and customs are made manifest, the image of Babel is complacently projected over that of the world. Then, from this pluralism, a type of unity is magically produced: man is born, works, laughs and dies everywhere in the same way; and if there still remains in these actions some ethnic peculiarity, at least one hints that there is underlying each one an identical ‘nature’, that their diversity is only formal and does not belie the existence of a common mould. Of course this means postulating a human essence, and here is God re-introduced into our Exhibition: the diversity of men proclaims his power, his richness; the unity of their gestures demonstrates his will. This is what the introductory leaflet confides to us when it states, by the pen of M. Andre Chamson, that ‘this look over the human condition must somewhat resemble the benevolent gaze of God on our absurd and sublime ant-hill’. The pietistic intention is underlined by the quotations which accompany each chapter of the Exhibition: these quotations often are ‘primitive’ proverbs or verses from the Old Testament. They all define an eternal wisdom, a class of assertions which escape History: ‘The Earth is a Mother who never dies, Eat bread and salt and speak the truth, etc.’ This is the reign of gnomic truths, the meeting of all the ages of humanity at the most neutral point of their nature, the point where the obviousness of the truism has no longer any value except in the realm of a purely ‘poetic’ language. Everything here, the content and appeal of the pictures, the discourse which justifies them, aims to suppress the determining weight of History: we are held back at the surface of an identity, prevented precisely by sentimentality from penetrating into this ulterior zone of human behaviour where historical alienation introduces some ‘differences’ which we shall here quite simply call ‘injustices’."
"Take liberal confusion over charter schools. Advocating charter schools to boost academic outcomes for poor, minority kids presumes that we can provide equal educational opportunity and simultaneously maintain a status quo of segregated housing and schooling. If you are unwilling to wage the unpopular fight for residential and school integration and equalized (and adequate) school funding, charter schools can seem a “good enough” compromise. The controversy over charter schools is symptomatic of liberalism’s unwillingness to face racism’s embeddedness in almost every aspect of education. The claim of leaving “no child behind” had a powerful resonance in part because educational inequality persisted in the twenty-first century. To deny that reality, as do many liberals who have awakened to the dangers of “corporate school reform” (led by feisty born-again liberal Diane Ravitch), is to assume that schooling of white, middle-class parents and children was not previously that much different from what poor and working class children of color experienced. It was — and is."